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Gay marriage: only policy

Some are for it, others against. And between these two poles lies the valley of misfortune: The contrast between wanting, being able and being allowed. In the political dispute over so-called gay marriage, a great drama now unravels between these arrangements, in which it is currently a matter of the equality of the institution of marriage (sacrament of the Catholic Church) and gay marriage (anti-sacrament). And we see already, in quite neoliberal terms, that there is a need for discussion. And this above all since the Constitutional Court recently announced ( 19th February 2013:) new regulations regarding the adoption rights for registered life partners, i.e. the possibility of marriage between homosexuals and lesbians.

Since the Life Partnership Act came into force on 1st August 2001, there have been repeated judgements by the Federal Constitutional Court against the wishes of those in agreement in the CDU/CSU, who want to preserve what constitutes the sacrament of marriage. It is quite clear to the average citizen that this is hair-splitting, but these are the CDU/CSU politicians raison d’être.
Let us remember Norbert Geis (2001 legal policy spokesman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary party and after the 2013 election no longer represented in the Bundestag), who lost his patience with the Life Partnership Act and railed that homosexuality was a “perversion”; the Life Partnership Act was contrary to the Constitution and the “principles of the three great religions”. So there! Cardinal Joachim Meisner was blowing the same trumpet when he conceded that the government was fostering “immoral behaviour from the Christian point of view”.
We would like to note at this point what great efforts the Church has made recently on the subjects of child abuse, misappropriation, false talk and the like, and come to the reassuring conclusion: The Church and State are separate from each other. And of course one may have one opinion, just like the other. That is politics – Christian or secular.
The state appears to be on the way to helping the “shrill minority”, as CSU General Secretary Alexander Dobrindt recently called it, of 30,000 same-sex partnerships (divorce rate unknown) to exercise their rights. Dobrindt and the Unionists are against this, and still want to rescue the bastion of marriage (still 17 million in Germany, although with a divorce rate of one third), and believe that democracy should orientate itself according to the needs of the majority; “Individual groups must not be allowed to call the tune.” On this point we can only say: The CSU is also a minority.

The Federal Constitutional Court, made up according to party quota, although at least politically amenable, bewilders us with these verdicts which are apparently so independent of any policy. In these cases, the permanence of the judges (after 10 years in office) seems to have a positive effect. It would be futile to try to find out why this is so. The important thing is: It is so – at least for all lesbians and homosexuals! The only thing missing now is the long overdue equality of civil unions with marriage from the point of view of tax policy, because everyone must be equal when it comes to taxes, even if the state then has to forego some payments into the national treasury. All must pay appropriately – or not at all.

This will also be understood by the 13 CSU members, who publicly acknowledged that it would be unacceptable if regulations were repeatedly made on behalf of politics by the Federal Constitutional Court. These 13 members should be stripped immediately of their mandate if they do not immediately now subscribe to the opposite, that this task falls solely within the purview of the Federal Constitutional Court. This also includes CSU chief Horst Seehofer, who said on ZDF (Berlin direkt) that only the Bundestag and Bundesrat were allowed to make basic social policy decisions – and not the Federal Constitutional Court. Seehofer also rebuked the Karlsruhe officials for overstepping their authority by announcing and commenting on decisions. And here we are in the middle of the political soup, because the public suggestion of possible decisions to influence the respective opponent is nothing new, and will only be applied in the case of gay marriage. No, such machinations have often been seen before, particularly when Chancellor Merkel took the ground from under the feet of Federal President Christian Wulff by rushing the ESM/Fiscal Pact through the Bundestag and Bundesrat, after he had spoken publicly against the ESM/Fiscal Pact, and whose successor Joachim Gauck, days before the decision of the constitutional judges, intimated in the newspapers that he would in any case agree to the ESM/Fiscal Pact. The Constitutional Court parried, and the ESM/Fiscal Pact was then not unconstitutional and could be waved through by the Bundestag/Bundesrat, just as the Chancellor wished. This may not have pleased the people, or at least the few who understood what it had all been about.

Nevertheless we want to state: The Constitutional Court represents civil rights. Politicians should also do this. The influencing of judges by politicians and vice versa has always led to no good. And it was irrelevant whether this influence took place publicly or in back rooms. As regards the debate on same-sex partnership on its way to real marriage, we may still remain hopeful. The Bundestag is currently again concerned with the right of adoption – an application which was tabled by the Greens, and the Bundesrat will by the end of March work out draft legislation for the opening up of marriage. This will be a matter of establishing under civil law that a marriage can also consist of same-sex partners.
This draft would put the finishing touch to the introduction of the Life Partnership Act initiated in the year 2001: since resistance could be expected from the union-dominated Bundesrat, the Red-Green coalition in power in 2001 divided the law on life partnership into two packages, only one of which required the approval of the Bundesrat.
While the main part of the law was decided in the Bundestag with the votes of the SPD and the Greens against the votes of the Union and FDP, the second part failed I 2002 to pass the Bundesrat; this was a supplementary law, which provided in particular for the acknowledgement of such a status in tax and civil service law. The law therefore came into force; for lesbians and homosexuals however, it means having neither rights nor obligations – for the moment.
The states of Saxony, Thuringia and Bavaria however (all lead by the Union), saw in this construct sufficient danger for the constitutionally privileged position of marriage and family. The Federal Constitutional Court (Art. 6 of the Constitution incidentally makes no reference to men and women) saw no danger to this protection – on the contrary, it called on the legislator to provide for rights and obligations for same-sex life partnerships similar or identical to those of marriage, because the special protection of marriage posed no hindrance to the legislator. That was in the year 2002. Since then, it has been clear that the legal equality of civil unions with marriage has long since been achieved: only politics is still quibbling.
In the discussion on taxation equality, a word of the Chancellor is now necessary. Because Mrs. Merkel has apparently not yet realised just how conservative homosexual marriage is, when measured by the number of gay CDU members in the Bundestag. What a pity that Merkel says nothing at all, but instead pushes forward her acolytes, the Families Minister Kristina Schröder and Employment Minister Ursula von der Leyen, hoping that their clamour about so-called family splitting ( a really old hat) will have some effect in public, and making it known that Merkel and Co. have no suggestions, so that it becomes clear how much Angela wants the subject off the agenda. Mrs. Merkel, stop thinking about the money for once!
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